The internet is stalking me again

Have you ever been stalked by a ceiling fan company? It’s terrifying.

My wife and I were remodeling our porch, and we needed a ceiling fan. One search online, and all of the Chatty Cathy’s of the world wide web got together and decided that anytime I peeked at a screen, a ceiling fan ad should be there. Every website I visited was populated with ads for them.

When I looked at my phone, there was a ceiling fan. When I went out to eat, I looked over my shoulder to see a ceiling fan quickly duck behind a menu.

“These ads make me want to shoot myself in the head!” I declared to my wife.

An ad popped up on the screen: “Looking for a new firearm?”

I read somewhere that when signing up for something from a website, a good course of action is to put the company’s name as your middle name, like Dave “TopHatEnthusiast.com” Manley. That way, down the road, you will know exactly which top hat dealer sold your information. Oh, what a great way to catch the rat red-handed, I thought.

Here’s the problem, though: Everyone sells your information. Every bit of what you do is tracked by someone who sells it to someone else. Everything. And I’m not sure how to feel about it.

As much as I squirm when I think of big brother watching over us, I also like the little conveniences that having no privacy allows. Like when I want to read about my favorite sports teams, I don’t need to sift through the duds because the web already knows who I like.

Even the ceiling fan ads weren’t bad at first. But, once I bought a fan (at the store, not online), the ads didn’t stop. I felt like I broke up with a very annoying person who just couldn’t accept that it was over.

So, what is the best way to stop these ads? Quit everything. Bury your phone, abandon Facebook and walk off into the woods to live on the land. Allow your eyebrows to become one.

Like it or not, living as a part of modern society means secrets are a thing of the past. And everyone will try to sell you everything at all moments, especially when you’re in the bathroom.

—Dave Manley

Hometown festival celebrates ethnic diversity

Let’s say you enjoy eating bratwurst with sauerkraut.

Perhaps a sampling of chicken paprikash is more your style. Maybe your taste runs toward stuffed grape leaves or a slice of pizza. How about a churro or baklava to satisfy your sweet tooth?

Visiting any of the great ethnic-American festivals around Ohio, many right in our own backyard, would do the trick. And that’s just mentioning the food. Add in the music, the culture and the ethnic items for sale and it’s easy to see why such festivals are enormously popular.

What if you want to experience a diverse sampling of many cultures in one place?

Then you, my friend, need to travel to my hometown and experience the Lorain International Festival and Bazaar.

Plates with main courses, scrumptious desserts, crafts, nearly nonstop musical entertainment, a parade on Sunday morning and kids rides and attractions have drawn thousands of visitors to Lorain’s one-of-a-kind festival since the late 1960s.

The festival pays special tribute to a different nationality each year and reflects the city’s tremendous diversity—a melting pot of new and former immigrants brought together, originally, for the good-paying blue-collar jobs that defined an industrial city built around giant U.S. Steel, Ford Motor Company and American Ship Building Company plants and countless other smaller manufacturers. After clocking out from a long shift, laborers of Hungarian, Polish, German, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Slovakian, Italian—you name the descent—visited their local social club for food and drink.

Each June, they all came together to celebrate their individuality while recognizing what they shared in common.

It has been a few years since I last visited Lorain for the International Festival. Nostalgia is pulling me back, and I plan to go this year (June 23-25). Of course, I say that every year, and nearly every year, something prevents it. Maybe declaring my intention in this public forum will help to hold me to it.

That still leaves plenty of room on the summer calendar for local church festivals, fairs and Hall of Fame-related events. Our family can relive the great debate of 2016: Funnel cakes or elephant ears? (Is there really a wrong answer?)

—Rich Desrosiers


Lively entertainment at this festival

Everybody’s hometown has the best festival. Take mine, for example. While I’m not certain what the official festival of Massillon is, I’d have to say the Cruise On In and Dance Party (going strong for 28 years now) is the official festival of Massillon. There’s a wing-eating contest, fireworks and cover bands, which pretty much covers the festival holy trinity. And whenever I’m there, I have to fight the urge to walk around shirtless with my “homemade” lemonade.

This festival has nothing—NOTHING AT ALL—on my wife’s hometown festival.

She grew up in the sticks of Ohio. She calls it middle Ohio, I call it middle-of-nowhere Ohio.

Bucyrus is her hometown, which is famous for … well, it’s only famous for having a festival, actually. I have attended the last four Bratwurst Festivals, and the fifth is already on the calendar.

Now, I’m not gonna lie. I started to rethink this whole Bratwurst Festival the second year we went there and the guy with the monkey photograph pit—get your photo with a monkey for a few bucks—got in a fight with his significant other. Apparently, the two of them spent every waking hour outside their RV at the local watering hole. Having watched the entire event go down, we had to give a video disposition to the police officer, who, with a straight face, asked my wife if there was anything unusual about the man? Her reply, “You mean other than he had a pet monkey,” left everybody in tears.

Fighting monkey handlers aside, if you never have been to the Bratwurst Festival, put it on your summer bucket list. The bratwursts there are better than anything we have here. The local VFW groups make pita-wursts, which is ground up bratwurst and sauerkraut on pita bread. And there is a group of women from a local church who sell bratwurst casserole, a little slice of Bucyrus heaven.

—Todd Porter

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